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Study: Religion helped young people’s mental health

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)

A study conducted by Springside Research Institute (SRI), based in Winona, MN, has concluded that there is a positive relationship between religion/spirituality and good mental health, the Christian Post reports.

The study entitled The State of Religion & Young People 2022: Mental Health–What Faith Leaders Need to Know came to the conclusion after surveying nearly 10,000 people between the ages of 13 and 25, also known as Generation Z.

The study which focussed on the pandemic and related lockdowns found that during this period over half (53%) of those surveyed said they struggled with mental health issues during the pandemic years.

The survey then questioned the remaining 47% who didn’t have mental health issues to find out why they didn’t struggle.

The survey found of those who described themselves as ‘flourishing a lot’ during the pandemic, 47% said they were ‘very religious’ compared to only 17% who provided a similar answer but stated they were ‘not religious’.

The survey also found that those who said they were ‘not flourishing’ were twice as likely (44%) to be non-religious, compared to only 20% of respondents who said they were very religious, but were not flourishing.

Another factor that contributed to good mental health was the young person’s connection to a religious community. Of those who said that they ‘flourished a lot’ 29% stated they were connected to a religious community, compared to only 20% who had no connection.

Though, a religious community helped young people handle the pandemic, I don’t believe religion is a major reason that some members of Gen Z fared better.

I suspect Christian young people flourished largely due to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Paul writes that the God of peace wants to sanctify the whole man, spirit, soul, and body:

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV)

The body of course refers to our physical being.

The spirit is the real you or the incorporeal part of man. We are told that when God created Adam, he breathed life into his body (Genesis 2:7). We became a living being.

Our spirit is who we are. It represents our mind, creativity, and emotions which is separate from our earthly body. At the moment that Christ died, Luke says that Jesus gave up his spirit (Luke 23:46).

So what is the soul?

The soul is what we see when our spirit interacts with our physical body and is manifested through our emotions, will, and mind.

When we become a believer through the born-again experience, the Holy Spirit resides inside us. As the Apostle John explains, “This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13).

At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit of peace begins the process of sanctifying or making whole, our spirit, soul and body.

I believe this SRI survey to some extent reflects this unseen work of the Holy Spirit, that gives us a peace that would seem unreasonable in light of trying circumstances (Philippians 4:6-7).

READ: New study suggests religion is good for youth mental health; Expert reveals how churches can do better AND The State of Religion & Young People 2022: Mental Health–What Faith Leaders Need to Know,

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